Lucky Laura a finals series regular
IF YOU ASK LAURA LANGMAN, IT WAS THE DOZENS OF TEAMMATES WITH WHOM SHE HAS SHARED THE COURT, NOT HER, WHO HAVE BUILT HEAR NEAR PERFECT FINALS RESUME.
She would have you believe it was Irene van Dyk, Kim Green, Kayla Cullen, Sharni Layton, Maria Tutaia and now Caitlin Bassett, not her, who have enabled the great New Zealand midcourter to visit nine of the past 10 netball finals series.
“I had no idea,” Langman said of the impressive statistic ahead of the Sunshine Coast Lightning’s Suncorp Super Netball major semi-final against the Melbourne Vixens on Saturday.
“I’ve been in some wicked teams and fortunate to have played with some amazing players.
“It’s nothing to do with me. I’ve been lucky.”
That selfless attitude is why coaches and players would form snaking queues around the netball world for the chance to be on the same side as Langman.
Sunshine Coast captain Geva Mentor knows Langman inside out and doesn’t buy any of the Kiwi’s over the top humility.
Mentor has played against the 31-year-old at international and club level for a decade, and now has the pleasant experience as a teammate to see what Langman brings to training and games.
“As some one who’s played against her over the years, I know how much she contributes,” said Mentor who is no mug herself after missing out just twice in 10 campaigns.
“Now that I’ve had the chance to play with her I know now how much she adds internally. She contributes to strategy and playing, and gives so much of herself.
“She puts her heart and soul into it. When she speaks, the players listen.”
Langman knows more about getting into finals than any active national league player.
As a member of the powerful Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic outfit, she never missed a post-season during the first six years of the trans-Tasman competition.
Her first two years with Australian clubs brought similar success.
Langman’s only blemish was a hiccup in 2014 when a super-talented Mystics side somehow missed the finals.
“What separates Laura,” Mentor said, “is that she’s so relaxed. There’s this Kiwi cheekiness to her.
“It’s a Kiwi X factor. She’s not too serious but when the time’s right they know how to switch on.”
Langman is a winner. And teams that include her also win.
So, what is the secret to finals success?
Great players and coaches can put teams within reach, but that often doesn’t guarantee victory.
“The biggest thing is to recognise and step up to the rise in intensity from the round robin stage,” Langman said.
“But the thing I realised, from 2012 (with the Magic), is that people assume if you’ve won the comp it’s been all smooth sailing.
“We had so many lumps and bumps that year.
“It’s how you react to them. You’ve got to take those setbacks and make things happen.
“It’s so important to be resilient.”
Langman, Mentor and Stephanie Wood’s finals experience will be of enormous value to teammates who have inferior records at this level.
Mentor found that having a willing assistant to help with extra phone calls and ticket requests can sometimes make a difference.
“It’s about staying on the right track and maybe finding some one to help with that stuff,” she said.
“But you’ve also got to remind the younger players they’ve been on the right track.
“They know how to play. So just embrace the nerves.”
2016 – NSW Swifts Runners Up
2015 – Northern Mystics NZ Conference champions
2014 – Northern Mystics No finals
2013 – WBOP Magic Minor Semi Finalist
2012 – WBOP Magic Champions
2011 – WBOP Magic Preliminary Finalist
2010 – WBOP Magic Runners Up
2009 – WBOP Magic Preliminary Finalist
2008 – WBOP Magic Runners Up